Single Moms Raising Autistic Sons

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Saturday, September 02, 2017

Visiting NaNa and PaPa in South Carolina

I can honestly say that for the first time in my life at age 53, I finally truly enjoy the company of my parents without thinking, "Oh please let this story be over with I have heard it a million times." Now we have great conversations, laugh, tell old and new stories, I cook great meals for them. My mom has tremors in her hands so she cannot prepare homemade meals anymore so I do my best to help her out.

 My dad had a heart attack last week and she needs help, he is fine now though. She needs neck surgery but I won't be able to come down and help her for the two weeks of recovery time she will need. She has fallen so much that she needs to stay in the wheelchair for safety until after her surgery. I am helping her clean, shop, run errands, and just hang out.

We are all having fun especially Griffin because he loves his grandparents. And now that we can come to the library and use their computers he is super happy! Mom is so good with him, she always has been. He is in his element at their house drawing and watching videos, and eating whatever he likes pretty much. I don't mind to let him have a vacation at the tail end of summer before he begins to get stressed out at school.

I made broccoli cheddar soup last night and they really liked it. Mom said that if I cooked like that for them all the time then they would both gain weight for sure. I told her to enjoy herself and splurge a little because they don't get to eat out since my dad is bed ridden. Tonight I am making cheese stuffed soft pretzels and tomorrow spinach artichoke dip and maybe spinach mushroom feta quiche.

The three of us went to Walmart shopping the other day and it was kind of funny in a way because she was in the motorized cart and Griffin and I were tagging along with me in a big boot on my leg and him wandering all over the place. I broke my foot over a month ago and am healing from it.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Guest Post by Kelly Tatera : 7 of the Greatest Accomplishments of Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder

7 of the Greatest Accomplishments of Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder

When people think of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), many people tend to focus on the developmental deficits rather than the gifts and talents that can come with the condition. 

ASD certainly doesn’t prevent people from accomplishing great things, so we’d like to highlight some of the most impressive accomplishments of individuals with autism.

1. Stephen Wiltshere – Artist 

Stephen Wiltshere, an artist from London, was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. However, his autism left him with the impressive ability of a photographic-like memory. He channeled this gift into his art, becoming known for his ability to paint intricate city skylines from memory. He now has a permanent gallery on the Royal Opera Arcade in London – his work can be seen here. 

2. Devin Ross – Swimmer 
When Devin Ross was three years old, doctors diagnosed him with autism and told his mom he would never make it to college, live on his own, and would likely have to be institutionalized. Ross had other plans in mind. At age 23, he went on to prove doctors wrong by making it to the 2012 Olympic swimming trials in London. Ross tributes his success to his autism.

3. Daniel Tammet – Bestselling Author 
Daniel Tammet, an English writer, wasn’t diagnosed with high-functioning autism until he was 25-years-old. That same year, Tammet set a European record for reciting the mathematical constant Pi from memory to 22,5013 decimal places. The recitation took 5 hours and 9 minutes. The year after, he began writing, and his first book, A Memoir of Asperger’s and an Extraordinary Mind, became a Sunday Times bestseller. 

4. Temple Grandin – Professor and Activist  Arguably the most well-known individual in the autism community, Temple Grandin was nonverbal until she was three and a half years old. Doctors said she would need to be institutionalized, but Grandin went on to be one of the most outspoken autism advocates in the world. She is known for developing corrals to improve the quality of life for cattle, and now teaches as a professor of animal sciences at Colorado State
5.  James Hobley – Dancer 
When James Hobley was just 11 years old, he won the hearts of Britain’s Got Talent judges with a stunning ballet performance. Hobley also has autism. Autism runs in his family, with his twin brother and elder brother also being on the spectrum. His ASD hasn’t held him back from making great accomplishments. At age 17, Hobley is now training at London’s prestigious English National Ballet School.

6. Jake Barnett – Math and Science Prodigy 
Like seen in many cases of severe ASD, Jake Barnett regressed and lost his ability to speak and make eye contact at age 2. He was put in special education classes at school, but by 8 years old, he was getting straight A’s in college-level math and science classes. Barnett reportedly has an IQ of 170, which is higher than Einstein. Barnett is now a PhD candidate researching Loop Quantum Gravity and Quantum Foundations at Perimeter Institute for Advanced Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Canada. 

7. Micah Miner – Gymnast 
Nine-year-old Micah Miner’s diagnosis of ASD didn’t hold him back from shining in his gymnastics endeavors. In fact, this past June, he competed in the 2017 U.S. Tumbling and Trampoline Association National Championship in Madison, Wisconsin – his third time making it to nationals. According to Micah’s parents, his autism helped him improve at gymnastics in some ways. 


Through ABA (applied behavior analysis) therapy, Action Behavior Centers helps children with autism spectrum disorder reach their highest potential. With centers around Texas, the ABC staff strives to provide top-notch care and educate both online and local communities on autism. 

I always enjoy having guest posts and offer my thanks to Kelly for submitting an excellent one.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Swimming Lessons

How I wish that I could post pictures or videos of Griffin when he is swimming and during his lessons because he is such a fish having absolutely NO fear whatsoever of the water. But, it is for that very reason that he is getting lessons because the statistics for drowning of Autistic children is very high as they are attracted to bodies of water. He has the best instructor that he has ever had even after several attempts over the years, and her name is Elly. She is so sweet and treats him with such respect and understanding. Elly knows exactly how to talk to him and approach teaching him she is so special to us and I am so grateful to have her in our lives. She will eventually be going to backpack across Europe and I told her that we have got to keep in touch. She agreed.

We will have the ABA assessment next Friday with Hannah and Matt to get things started and I am so excited. It will be intensive at 2 hours a day 5 days a week but we need it so much. Matt asked me if I was going to put him in school but I asked him if he thinks that teachers who have their minds made up that he is manipulative and always wants his way and that he belongs in the place where wayward boys go, if they are trainable . I was going to homeschool him again because of their attitudes but he wants to give it a chance because he said that school is such a great place for progress and social opportunities. I am still not sure.

Griffin had developed some stemming where he hits his head with his fist and makes some vocal sounds, they were coming and going but when he had them they were constant so bad that I took him to the doctor for a neurology referral. The missionaries had given him a blessing and it worked in just a matter of a few days they were completely gone. Faith is miraculous!

Monday, July 17, 2017

A Great Summer and Surrounded by Love

At our Mormon/LDS church we have met so many wonderful, loving, compassionate, understanding, accepting people/church members. They are the most caring people who are also the least judgmental people I have ever met in my life. They have helped me and Griffin so very much more than I ever could have imagined and the greatest part is that they are altruistic and expect nothing in return.

Elder Creasey and Elder Swindler have been so kind and helpful ever since we first met them which is the very beginning of the process of conversion. They have moved on to different areas and one has even moved on out of being a missionary but we are all still very close. Griffin loves them too.

Griffin said opening and closing prayers for the very first time yesterday, Sunday and what an amazing job he did! I am so very proud of him for so many reasons because he has matured so much just since beginning church less than 6 months ago. He is devout in his beliefs and is so righteous because he is one of God's chosen ones who is special and forever innocent due to his special needs. He would never intentionally harm anyone or anything because he has no idea of how to be malicious or spiteful or hateful. My dad denies that he has anything different about him and blames him for everything that he does and yells at him all the time getting angry at him all the time so I just tell Griffin to stay away from him because my dad is the one with the problem not my son! He is missing out on what could have been a wonderful relationship it is so sad.

But we are having an awesome summer and I will hate to see it end. We always get along now because we love and understand each other more than ever before since having the Gospel in our lives and growing close to Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ!

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Piano, and Singing

Our lives have changed exponentially since joining the church after being baptized. The missionaries visit us a few times a week, we attend church on Sunday, and on Wednesday Griffin goes to Boy Scouts at the church. We are so joyful now, our lives now have so much meaning and purpose since having faith in Heavenly Father. I don't like to spend too much time talking about it because I am still just learning so much mostly by reading Scripture every day several times a day and having discussions, going to classes at church, and meetings. I love learning so much every day. Griffin is so excited too and enjoys when we read Scripture together and pray together.

One day at church Griffin was sitting next to one of the sisters who was teaching him America the Beautiful and she said that he learned it from just showing him once and then I found out that he taught himself to play It's a Small World just by ear. He is amazing more and more each day. One of the brothers is giving Griffin a piano which is such a huge blessing because I want him to start piano lessons as soon as possible. One of the sisters teaches piano but she doesn't have an opening yet for lessons but he is next on the list.

Griffin loves to sing and everyone at church knows it because he sings from the heart and is not shy about it. Once he walked up behind the youth choir director (who is also a youth) and started singing while looking at his book. Later Bartell asked if Griffin would like to be in the youth choir and Griffin said "Yes!" with great enthusiasm. So Bartell is going to give us a call .

School is going great, Griffin is making excellent progress. We just had a meeting and decided that things should stay the same for awhile until he is completely successful for at least two weeks and then we will meet again and decide what the next move is as far as increasing his time in school and challenging him. The intensive in home team is stepping down and I am frankly glad because it is less complicated that way and besides the school has a new assistant to Griffin named Mike who seems to be a great fit for him. I think that that kind of consistency is going to be essential to his success rather than with intensive in home where they were never on a regular schedule it was always someone different.

Now I just have to work on a few things with him at home and out in public as far as behavior goes. I spoke to Brother Thorton who used to be a special ed teacher to find strategies to use that I  can stick to and be consistent with in order to improve his behavior at home and in public and in church. Last Sunday was a conference and he was up walking around during the service asking people loudly if they had a pencil he could borrow. I don't usually get embarrassed but that was ridiculous and the he walked right out of the building without listening to me at the end and wouldn't come back. I was so upset but of course I couldn't lose my cool in front of everyone at least I didn't feel that it was appropriate at the time.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Great Vistit In SC With My Parents/Back To School

I was terribly sick during the Christmas holiday as I had some kind of wicked virus that wasn't the flu so we didn't get to go to SC to visit as we had planned for a long time and Griffin was terribly disappointed. But we did get to go for New Year's Eve and we stayed about 3 days. It was nice to see them as it had been about 6 months since we had been down there. I had to rent a car because there was no way that our car would have made it. We didn't do much really but I did get to sit and look at recipes with my mom and talk with her, that is one thing that we do love to do together because we both love to cook. Griffin mostly watched dvds as I had taken his player and small TV down so that he would have something to do. He wanted so badly to stay up and watch New Year's Rockin' Eve and watch the ball drop so we did but it was a bit disappointing because it only came on 30 minutes before midnight and they only had one performer...not like it used to be.

Griffin's return to school on Jan. 3rd and ever since has been a huge success! He is so thrilled to be back in school even if he is not allowed to use the computer. His teacher and Intensive In Home team say that he is getting his work done quickly, completing it all, getting it all correct with time left over to look at Garfield books until I get there. His behavior has been excellent and Mrs. Keith said that the work, especially the math, is really hard work and that she is very proud of him. I had thought that I was going to need to give him incentives or rewards but just going to school is reward enough for him.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Today Is A Good Day

This is the sticker that I have on the inside of my front door "TIAGD" Today is a good day and Griffin has made a sign for himself that reads, "RESET". Mine is to remind me of how precious every day is no matter what may happen and that I need to be grateful for everything that happens and for Griffin he made his sign to help him Reset before he goes out the door especially in the morning that no matter what has happened that he starts over as he walks out the door and leaves the past behind him. I admire him for having done that and he didn't even get it from anywhere except his own imagination and consciousness. Griffin is quite the intelligent young man/teenager , creative, and imaginative as well.

Griffin has matured a great deal just since last Spring as he now is far more patient and understanding of situations that have to do with me or others which goes well along with his innate sense of compassion and affection for others and especially animals. But now he thinks of me when I am sick or in pain rather than being upset because it is interfering with his plans. For example, this past Christmas I was so sick with some kind of virus in my GI tract and we couldn't go to SC to visit his sister and my parents and instead of being angry at me for ruining his plans he was ever so helpful, loving, kind, and understanding towards me. Even though he had exclaimed out of frustration that it was the worst Christmas ever and I had to agree with was indeed.

Griffin will be 15 years old next month and that means that he will only be 3 years away from 18 years old....YIKES! But we are in the moment appreciating what we are and have right now not to get ahead of ourselves. I do think about his future though financially and also who will take on the responsibility of guardianship once I am infirmed or simply just not around anymore to care for him no matter how little or how much I need someone whom he trusts to do that so that I feel secure in that he will be safe and happy and provided for.

We have been using the token system at home which is part real coins and partly fake coins used in exchange for completing tasks both on a regular schedule and unexpected ones that come up. For instance, he gets coins for homework, eating properly, showering properly and washing his hair, being proper in public and staying with me the entire time = 50 cents each trip etc... that way he has printing money for the library and he can learn to save for things that he wants to buy. Also if I have to clean up for him then he owes me money ie...$1.00 an hour for my services to clean up after him. He has to give me 3 coins which equals 25 cents in order to go to the library each day or he can earn it by cleaning up himself the designated area I assign. So far it is working like a charm. Thanks to Juliette from Family Preservation.

Soon , Jan. 3rd he will be going back to school but only for an hour and a  half just to get things started back slowly and only Mrs. Keith's class which is math and he will not be allowed to use the computers due to the conflicts that it causes every single time he needs to get off of it at the end of the day ( impossible without some kind of incident). I felt that it was best to just skip it for now until things smooth out a lot more.

His diabetes Type 2, is going great thus far as he has improved upon his eating habits and has become thinner and healthier not asking for "bad" foods. His glucose has been in the normal range. I am so proud of my big (5'11" 206 lbs.) guy! I love you are so awesome!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Making Progress While Out of School

I decided after Griffin had lashed out several times at his teachers that it would be best that we explore some new avenues in which to help him and to figure out what the root cause is to this aggression. Intensive in home has been slow going as change such that is necessary takes some time but we just can't risk him hurting others or for him to get arrested because one of the teachers decide to press charges, he does not need that trauma in his life it would devastate him.

So with Family Preservation Services the team who is doing Intensive In Home, had referred me to their psychiatrist because I wanted Griffin to see someone who could change his meds because I have had a feeling that more could be done in that area. We saw Dr. Lee and boy was I impressed with his extensive knowledge of the ASD/ADHD teenage it functions and what makes it work efficiently and what types of deficiencies cause neurological issues such as aggressive impulsivity , his ticks, OCD, and a plethora of other symptoms that are undesirable. It was so nice that after we had finished our discussion and as he was writing the script for an increase to 3mg of Intuniv, he told me that all of this is fixable which gave me all the hope that I needed to get through this tough spot that we have been facing.

I am also getting a psych evaluation for him to rule out anything psychological which I rather doubt because he is only having outbursts not really mental health issues. But I do want to be sure and cover all of our bases. When he is ready to go back to school whenever that may be then I want to feel confident that he is in the best of health and quite capable of staying calm in all instances. That is no matter what triggers may occur that he is going to be stable and be able to use his words when he gets upset and frustrated.

The Intensive In Home team is so amazing and how I wish that the last three times that we had I.I.H that the groups (different company) would have been so thorough and so truly "intensive" in their therapy but at least we finally have people who are truly dedicated and have many years of experience in ASD to guide their decisions as they guide us.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Griffin Was Provoked By His Teacher's Assistants, His New Friend Sean, and Will from the Autism Society

School was a big problem from the first day which was an absolute disaster so much so that he got up and left his regular ed. class walked down the hall to his homeroom which was a special ed class. He was screaming in the hallways and the poor guy just couldn't take it. And practically every afternoon that I pick him up he is in pieces and his TA and teacher will just not listen to him when he is trying to tell us why he is so upset.

Now he is in a special ed program with a very small class size and it is an occupational work/study type program where they actually make things to sell to the public to fund their field trips. It is a great idea if you have the right staff working who are fully qualified for the position. However the two TAs working with him have already made big mistakes. The first one for some reason that I cannot think of would be justified, threw away his drawings. I find it to be completely uncalled for and inappropriate for a person in a authoritative position to provoke a special needs child into rage without good reason when she could have set it aside and told him that he could finish it later. So he runs out of the room without permission and he gets in trouble for it instead of the real issue that antagonized him in the first place being addressed.

The second TA from his other classroom made a much bigger mistake and caused Griffin to ultimately be suspended. I had given his teachers food and drink for him to have during the day between lunch and going home because he had been having outbursts from being so hungry and he needs the oral motor stimulation too. One day I had asked her to get the cheese sticks out of the fridge to bring to me when she and Griffin met me in the afternoon by the office (inside the bldg.) . When I saw Griffin he was beside himself screaming at her and wanting the Capri Sun that she had in her hand and she refused to give it to him. He yelled, "You can't give that to someone else because my mom paid for it, it's for me!" I turned to him and said that no she wasn't going to give it to someone else and yes it was his. I then turned to her and asked her if that was her intent and she tried to whisper so that Griffin couldn't hear, "No, I was going to put it back in the fridge for tomorrow." I asked her in a firm voice, "Then why is that not what you told him?" Griffin had reached the end of the rope and ran out of the building and I don't blame him.

The next morning I get a call from the liaison from the district saying that Griffin had hit the TA and that they have it on tape and that he will be suspended. I calmly listened to her and then I told her that she needs to hear the entire story. And I asked her if he hit her then why didn't she tell me then and there? I did not disagree that he should have not hit her but in his defense she knew that she was pushing him over to edge to breaking point, then why did she do it and why didn't she stop before it reached that point? And why did she take the drink out of the fridge if she had no intention of giving it to him? That is emotionally abusive for an autistic child and completely out of line! Completely unprofessional! Of course she had no answer and she actually seemed shocked at what I was telling her . Then she said that it was a problem and a personnel issue that would be addressed. I said in a raised firm voice with great sincerity that if Griffin was going to be reprimanded then she has to be as well.

There is a meeting tomorrow morning with whom I do not know but I am fully prepared with all my accounts of what has happened the entire time that he has been there and what needs to change needs to be determined so that Griffin is comfortable and not antagonized so that he can have a positive experience in high school. It has to be figured out somehow because he wants to go to high school and make friends which he already has.

We met Sean the second day of school and he is so amiable and so well mannered, indeed a high functioning senior with autism. We went to the trampoline park with him and to Chick fil A but the only problem is that he doesn't really talk to Griffin instead he carries on conversations with me about things that he is interested in. That is okay but there is just so much going on right now that I had to decline on his invitation for Griffin and I to go to the movies and out to eat also because financially I can't afford it.

Griffin has been spending time with Will from the Autism Society and he loves Will so much. He is so good with Griffin better than anyone ever has been. They went to the fair together, they go to the library and print, to Barnes & Noble, he lets Griffin use his smart phone and no matter where they go they just have fun because Will is just so animated, young, and energetic. I love how they are together.  He is truly a blessing in our lives.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Getting Excited About Starting School

This year Griffin will be a freshman in high school. He has been homeschooling for the past two years and it is definitely time for a change. He wants (and needs) to make new friends his age, to swim in the school swimming pool (his favorite physical activity), learn new things academically, and to just enjoy the whole high school experience. I am so happy for him, he has really grown and developed these past two years learning a lot about living and now the things that he has not had so much of he will finally get in high school. I cannot provide him with all those things and he rightly deserves it in order to develop and progress further.

I must confess that I will miss having him around but the time to myself will be enriching as I will fill my hours being quite productive and creative enjoying all the activities that I have not been able to do while having him home all the time. I haven't planned anything thus far but I am sure when the time comes I will come up with plenty of ideas such as returning to my artwork and writing again they are both sorely missed.

We are still using the library computers and my time is about up so I shall bring this post to an end. Life is wonderful, more and more every day. We had a big blessing today with our car having to pay far less than having been quoted for the front brakes so I am ever so grateful. And he fixed our front windows no charge.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Success with Social Stories

It had occurred to me that if I had written a social story for the library that it would be the perfect solution for our difficulties with behavior and sure enough it did work like a charm. I kicked myself for not having done it in the first place in order to avoid situations. I am at the library or I would post a picture of what it looks like. Basically I just drew stick figures because it is not important that they have detail or look realistic as long as it gets the point across that it is a person, then I drew conversation bubbles over their heads with the words inside. The most important part is that the words are not too many in number but that they are very specific painting a picture of exactly what needs to be done...not what doesn't need to be done. Being positive is very important (to me at least). I drew the other persons involved with only the bare basics of furniture and such. The librarians were impressed not only with the social story but with the tremendous difference in Griffin after he read and understood the story following through with its instructions.

 The library staff, especially the supervisor, all have been absolute angels as far as how they have wanted to help Griffin and me as much as they possibly could. In fact, a night and day difference between this library and the other one where they said that they would call the police on him. They are different counties and it is so obvious! Tears welled up in my eyes when we were talking on the phone and Sarah the supervisor was being so kind and understanding because it touched me so deeply. It is rare that people have such hearts and acceptance of a child's differences. Usually people expect him to conform to their expectations and are totally unwilling to bend a little to help him out. Even family members are that way who do not want to understand that he has autism and that sometimes what he says and does has to be accepted and not judged. Frustrating!

Now I need to make social stories for every event and situation especially those in public such as the wandering at stores, not looking for cars in parking lots, how to conduct oneself appropriately in doctor's offices and waiting rooms etc... If only I had remembered to do this a long time ago life would be so much simpler and easier but I hate clich├ęs but, "Better late than never." I am the first to admit that I learn more everyday, more than Griffin does just by making so many mistakes which I prefer to refer to as life's lessons since I believe that we make mistakes to learn in order to progress in life. It is inevitable therefore why not accept it and not give them a negative connotation?

Another thing that I have recognized in myself is that I usually do not validate Griffin's feelings and I hate that about myself. Today I have decided that that is my new lesson to make sure that when he shows his feelings, no matter what they are, that I stop and ask how he is feeling and then validate those feelings. I have never ever had my feelings validated so I know how painful it is and I refuse to repeat that with Griffin. I want him to hear and feel that all his emotions are appropriate and perfectly normal (although I hate that word) to feel because I know myself how good it feels and how much freedom there is when one has the confidence in one's own feelings without retribution or condemnation of oneself. Griffin needs to understand that all the "bad" emotions are okay too and that the "dark" side is acceptable no need to feel like a bad person for having them because everyone does. The beauty of acceptance of one's whole self is that it gives us absolute freedom from the worry or fear of other people's judgment and criticism.

I watched Eckart Tolle last night he is a man of such wisdom,  the epitome of peace and mindfulness. His books and tapes have left such an impression on me however for me they are to be reviewed again and again in order to truly learn from them. To attempt to get his message across myself I would do him no justice therefore I shall just leave you with one of his quotes:

"By accepting what is you become bigger than what is."    I live in the NOW and accept all that is.

Tomorrow is my 52nd birthday and my dad's birthday and a couple of other people whom I have heard about. I do not make plans because the future is merely in my mind since it has not happened therefore what happens will happen. If I project happiness in the NOW then I imagine that tomorrow will be no different...but all we have is NOW.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

What a Great Summer!

We have been going to a different library in which there has absolutely no problems whatsoever and Griffin is exactly the same person that he was at the other one but the difference is that the staff here are understanding and accepting of Griffin in fact there is a sign on the door that reads: We welcome all abilities, if you have any questions please inquire within. Now that is a true welcome sign indeed.
If a patron says anything to him about him dancing in his chair or anything else I merely inform him that he is autistic and so far everyone is understanding after that. Griffin's counselor recommended that we only go back to the other library where Elizabeth the bully is, on the days that she doesn't work because no one else has a problem with him. However I am still a bit too emotional about it to speak to anyone there, I have got to distance myself from it more so that I can speak nicely and properly.

So far we have been having a great summer although we have been having a bit of car trouble. First it was the radiator then four thread bared tires and one blow out. So the universe was so kind as for my Aunt Becky to call a garage that a couple own Tammy and Glenn and they donated four brand new tires to me and my heart skipped a beat I was almost in tears. Then we went to S.C. to see my mom who had fallen and broken her hip but it was so darn hot 102 degrees, that the car overheated and we were stuck. I had called the mechanic that put in the radiator and thermostat and he scared me to death saying that it was a blown head gasket so we had to have the car towed to NC after sitting in the heat for two hours. It was over an hour's ride home. But the tow truck driver was such a sweetheart and we had a great conversation. He was young and handsome but unattached because he worked on call twenty-four seven just to support his elderly mom. You sure don't find men like that anymore.

I got brave and started driving the car little by little because I had to and I found that as long as I keep anti-freeze in the car it is perfectly fine so I don't think that the head gasket is blown and I don't think that the radiator or thermostat was bad after all or else something was not fixed at the time. Anyhow I am going to a different garage because the other one was wrong and I can't afford to have things replaced that are not helping the problem while the problem still exists. I am going back to see Tammy and Glenn because they help out single moms and are understanding. I waited until I had some money this time so that I can pay them.

Griffin is doing so well with homeschooling. We are on American history right now and he is really enjoying it. Last night he read the entire Declaration of Independence all by himself. I have found that he loves books but has difficulty focusing when reading on his own so I read to him at bedtime every night and we are about to finish Old Yeller. It is challenging to understand for him heck, for me even, but he is getting the gist of it and learning new vocabulary words and slang. We are also reading a chapter book for his age group and I think it is called ....well I forgot but it is pretty good. It takes place in the 1800s in England and is supposed to be a bit spooky.

Before the car problems we were going to SC to see his sister. She is a beautiful person. I will write more later my time is running out.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Incident at Our Favorite Library and Some Really Good News

Griffin and I were going to one specific library where we knew everyone who worked there and got along famously in fact I even volunteered there two days a week. Well, apparently they didn't understand Griffin's autism as much as I thought they had and apparently they didn't think of him as fondly as I had presumed.

There was one librarian, Elizabeth, who unfairly targeted Griffin when it came to asking him to quiet down whereas she nor anyone else asked the people breaking the rules who were talking on their cell phones, having loud conversations, and especially no one spoke to the parents of the kids who were running around and screaming and were old enough to know better that is if anyone had taught them. Well, one day Elizabeth got in Griffin's face when he was, as usual, using headphones and watching a video. Of course he felt that his space had been invaded and she had overwhelmed him by talking to him while he was listening and watching. So he had a knee jerk reaction and barely pushed her out of his face and yelled "I need space". They told me that he had to leave without even listening to me defend him and his behavior and even though there was only 15 minutes left until closing. Griffin knows full well exactly what time the library closes and of course he is used to leaving at that time. He started to have a meltdown screaming that it was not five o'clock yet and it wasn't time to go. I couldn't get him to leave until after a major battle because they had said that they were calling the police. So I panicked . By the way, in over a year's time NO ONE has ever ever complained about Griffin's behavior while on the computer he whispers when he sings and dances in the chair but most everyone who comes there already knows him and just goes about their own business.

Needless to say that I stopped volunteering there and haven't gone back since except to leave a letter that Griffin's therapist wrote to them about him being unfairly targeted and how if the police were called that it would be horribly traumatic for him and that he has never hurt anyone nor ever would. So far I haven't heard from the librarian, Lisa, but Griffin still wants to go there so something has got to be worked out and I am afraid that my mama bear is going to come out and ruin it.

For now we are going to the other county's library where no one complains or gives Griffin a hard time about his singing and dancing in the chair. The worst that has happened is that people look at him funny and I just give them a long stare as if to ask if they have a problem with my son.

In other news, good news is that Griffin was accepted to autism camp and that my mom gave me the cash I needed for the deposit. The camp gave him a $1200.00 scholarship so now I am waiting for one more scholarship for $400.00 to pay for the rest. Fingers crossed! This is the same camp where he went for two consecutive years in 2010 and 2011 and absolutely loved it. I am so excited for him. It will be so good for him to make friends and to socialize but especially to spend some quality time out of doors.

Griffin and I have been having so much fun homeschooling and playing each and every day. He is such a quick learner and so eager to learn that if I am lagging behind on doing studies or if I am not feeling well then he has done studies on his own I noticed one day when going through his papers. He had actually gone through and read his science books making a life cycle chart of animals, the hierarchy of the food chain and facts about presidents and civil war history. I am so very proud of him he has matured and grown so much in just the past year.

Also super good news is that Griffin and I are getting to know his only sister who lives only an hour from us in SC , Rochelle. She is so sweet and kind and so excited to one day get to meet us in person but she works six days a week and is waiting for two days off so that we can spend some time together. I found out about her because their dad, Sam, had gotten in touch with me through a third party and wants to finally be a part of Griffin's life and to really be a dad to him. He has even written some letters to him. Griffin was excited to hear from his dad but he is still just a stranger to him so it will take awhile before he is able to begin to grow close to him in fact Sam has a lot of proving to do to show Griffin that he truly does have the integrity to deserve the title of "Dad". Griffin has so much love in his heart that he is always eager to share his love with anyone which is wonderful but at the same time I hope that it doesn't mean a great deal of heartache in his future. He is so kind and compassionate and I just don't ever want my sweet young man to ever be damaged. He is my universe!

The other night when we were snuggling he said, and I quietly cried, that if I died that he would die and that if he died that I would die and that is what love is. I knew what he meant because we have such an intense bond between us that even if it were not literal then figuratively  we would perish if either one of did leave the other, in spirit. I sit here in the library with tears welling up in my eyes at just the thought of it.

But as we live in the present moment all is wonderful and beautiful, we are as happy as we possibly could ever be. I have been reading some books that have facilitated me in being in the present moment at almost all the time which has enabled me to discontinue a few of my medicines one of which was an anxiety medicine because I no longer have any anxiety in my life no matter what happens I am able to breathe through it and be mindful. No longer do I need to distract myself from stress and issues I merely breathe and find that there is no such thing as stress it is merely our thoughts that put us in that situation they are not real. If we think of the past or future then that is the problem because what is happening in the moment is all that is real.

Love and peace to all. Have a blessed day!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Life Is Good!

Just a quick update...Things are going absolutely AWESOME! A slight glitch with my car the radiator cap was the wrong one and it was overheating. I had to have it towed and was without it a few days but I am very grateful that it wasn't anything major.

for everything in my life. I have come this far and am living in the present moment each moment at a time and loving life and appreciating every breath so much more. Since I have learned to live mindfully and meditate while doing everyday activities I have been thriving so much more productive, joyful, grateful, and sleeping like a log which I had never done in my entire life thus far.

Griffin is thriving as well as we are still homeschooling preparing for next year when he wants to go to high school. He has matured so much it is amazing. His manners are impeccable and he just conducts himself like a wonderfully kind and sociable young man.

Hope all is well with everyone!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

BE Present

We are doing absolutely incredible....couldn't ask for anything other than what we are already grateful to have within and outside of ourselves. We are truly blessed. Every moment is precious and an opportunity for a new beginning as nothing is permanent it is ever changing in every single moment. This is my new lesson from Thich Naht Hahn's book, "No Fear No Death". He and Eckhart Tolle are my absolute favorite spiritual teachers authors.

I am grateful for the air that I breathe and the ability to breathe life into my body.
I am grateful for the opportunity and privilege to share this life with my precious child.
I am grateful for the abundance in my life of all that I need as I am always provided for no matter how little money I have.
There is so much more that I am grateful for and from time to time I will post them as I go along but my time right now on the computer at the library has almost run out therefore I must go.

I am grateful that my book is coming along nicely and that I write with ease .

Life Is!!! 

Monday, November 02, 2015

The Autumn Leaves Here Are Absolutely Breathtaking!!!!

Wish that I could post a picture of the myriad of colors on the trees here in NC. They sprinkle the mountains so vibrantly with vivid yellows/gold tones, radiant reds, oranges so bright that one might believe that the powers that be had painted those colors personally with magic watercolors, acrylics, and oils. While driving to SC today for an appointment, and regardless of the rain and fog I could take in the colors surrounding me for miles appreciating where I live and being grateful for every day that we are alive and living life not just going through the motions. I talked to a silent young man who was being so patient on our one hour road trip. He was not too thrilled when  I  brought up the beauty around us so I asked of him what he would think if everything was black and white...then he agreed that the colors were to be appreciated.

His glucose numbers have been totally normal for at least a month now however the challenge is to keep his eating habits in the "healthy" range instead of trying to reason that if he has normal numbers then why can't he cheat once in awhile but I have to remind him that to goal is to be healthy not to eat unhealthy foods which can still cause harm to his body regardless of his numbers not to mention he could lose a little more weight. I am proud of him because  he has lost 15lbs and has been far more active.

We had a scary episode at Wal-Mart the other night where this grungy scary creep was stalking us the followed us out to our car inadvertently by going to his car and watching us. My experience as an confidential reliable undercover informant for the FBI kicked in and I turned the tables on him and showed him that I was on  to him driving around to his car where he put his head down into his steering wheel hoping that I wouldn't realize that it was him but I just sat there waiting. Finally he raised his head and drove off. I followed him closely to the main  road where there was a huge police roadblock that he immediately avoided turning around. A police officer on that side road followed him and stopped him. I had called 911 and she said to go tell the officer what had happened which I did. The officer listened and took the situation very seriously so we waited while another officer gave him a sobriety test. Meanwhile officer #1 revealed a loaded pistol that the creep had in his car!!! He passed the sobriety test however the officer said that the guy had a few screws loose and that he was supposed to be on medication but was not. At that point he told me that we could go as they continued questioning him. Who knows what could have happened if I had not though of confronting the guy and then he followed us home!!! I am so grateful for my mommy/female/informant intuition instincts they really kick in when I need them the most.


Friday, October 02, 2015

GRATITUDE Turns What You Have Into Enough!!!! That, My Dear, Is The Magic In Life

Griffin's counselor and I were talking today and she has been amazed at how far he has come and how much he has matured since he has been out of school but more so even since I stopped the Internet at home and cable TV. She commented on how he just takes everything in stride and is so well-mannered and such a free spirit. He has been so much more open in communicating his emotions and stating how he feels about specific situations, he is much more social both with his peers (something new) and as usual with adults.

We go to the library every day and just by being exposed to the myriad of books, cds, and DVDs he has started checking out books that are at least at his grade level which is a big improvement from when he was in school because he was reading 2 grade levels behind then. It seems that the more free rein I give him the more he develops and has an acute interest in learning and trying new things not to mention being far more creative. Needless to say I am extremely proud of him and could not ask more of him at the point in time.

Mostly we are still "unschooling" learning more about how to function in daily life than focusing on useless academics that he will not use when he becomes an adult. We work on money, cooking, cleaning, taking care of the cats, how to shop for groceries etc... The beauty is that I have stopped harping on him to do things and he just does them on his own now for example brushing his teeth and taking a shower. Now his favorite thing to do is to go to the library and print out images of his favorite cartoon characters and take them home cut them out and simply display brings him so much joy. Life is so simple and beautiful now without technology I love being the one who connects to the people around me living in the real world in real time instead of always looking at a smart phone (I have a flip phone on purpose) or a computer. It is my pleasure to be a non-conformist as I have always been. I have found that I appreciate life and the people in it giving Griffin undivided attention when he speaks to me or needs attention from me. We live in the moment....mindfully. In fact, I can't even recall the last time he had a meltdown or screamed about something. He has been so happy & laughing all the time or contemplative and quiet as we respect each other's space and privacy/alone time. I have been reading and listening to NPR classical music or CDs that I get from the library.

The newest development is that we have recently found out that he has Type 2 diabetes and he takes Metformin, a short acting insulin Novolog, and a long acting insulin Lantus. At first he was so bad that he had high ketones (ketoacidosis) which is dangerous because it is like poison in the body doing damage to the organs, his blood glucose was over 450 the day we were in the doctor's office so they had to give him insulin right away. Now that he has been on meds for 3 weeks and we have both been very careful about our carb and fat intake eating lots more high fiber foods/complex carbs, veggies, and lean protein his BG has been within normal range about twice a day. It hasn't been better than that because we haven't met with the registered dietitian yet. I am interested in what she has to say about his restrictive eating and sensory issues with food.

Griffin has been eager to do his absolute best to be as healthy as possible and takes all his injections without any complaints even though one of them is quite painful. He is such a trooper! At first I was super stressed out and overwhelmed but we have both adjusted especially since I had already been working towards better health because I have Type 2 also. We have been going to the larger stores every day and walking for up to an hour and it has really brought our BG down not to mention that we also need to bring down our triglycerides and cholesterol which is directly related to having diabetes.

I am stressed now for other reasons financial, family, and my wicked neighbor who won't leave us alone but with the help of my dear friends Ali and Rebecca I am coming through it feeling like they are all just a blip on the radar and nothing is going to get in my way of being a positive, productive, loving, happy individual who is so very grateful for all in my life.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

My Knee is Injured but I Need to Move

I can't get on Facebook because the phone that is used to verify I can't see the screen so I can't use it on the library computer however I do have limited access on my old flip phone if anyone wants to send a message I do check it now and then I can't see your statuses though. I do get some notifications. If anyone wants to contact me my e-mail is :

A few months ago I injured my right knee and it has only gotten worse since. I have seen two different doctors who each one has not treated it seriously just sending me on my way. I do need to move by the end of the month and I haven't even packed anything yet trying to rest my knee. I don't even know if I have more than one person to help me move. It will all work out. Got to go my time is running out on the library computer. Will write more later.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Life Is Good, So Full of Blessings!

Since getting rid of the Internet at home and having no TV to watch only having a few new DVDs to watch each week from the library, things have been absolutely STELLAR!!!! Griffin and I are so much more active, productive, and far more creative than ever before. We talk much more than before and he has really come out of his shell being more social and talking more openly about his emotions voicing his opinions and making his wishes known as well as what he does not like and that is such a huge leap from how he used to be especially before homeschooling. It has been so easy to teach him new things as he has become more open to learning, reading, and volunteering for new tasks that was nearly impossible to get him to do in the past such as brushing his teeth, going to bed when prompted, getting ready and leaving on time, and just being more responsive all together than he has ever been.

We got a new car which means that we have been far more mobile than in the past few years as our old Volvo had seen her better days and was not very reliable. Now we have a mint condition Acura Legend 1994, top of the line Honda and it has been in a garage all of its existence and had only one owner who was an elderly woman who hardly even used it. So now we can go on field trips exploring our beautiful state and visit SC to see my parents without having to be concerned about our safety. Also we are moving really soon, at the end of the month and our new apartment is spectacular! It is brand new and huge. It is for us like moving to Park Avenue. This is all  happening because I have changed my life around to where I only think positive thoughts and have positive feelings about all the blessings in our lives. I have chosen to surround myself with positive people and ignore/avoid all the negative people not allowing them to have any influence over me.

Instead of asking things of the powers that BE I give thanks for everything in my life for everything serves a higher purpose allowing me to live in the moment...just BEING. Life is so much more vivid so incredible, so rich that way. I appreciate every sight, sound, taste, scent, touch, and feeling that I am experiencing. I also do daily affirmations that not only help me feel better but helps me heal all that is bothering me physically. I wish that all my friends and family could feel this way.

We are at the library now and Griffin is about to read to Salonge the German Shepherd, she is a therapy dog who comes every week along with 5 other dogs as well. So I need to go.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Griffin Just Wants to Snuggle with the Ducks

This is our friend Mary who is the local bird expert. We love it when we get to see her at the lake and we get to talk about each duck and goose, she has named all of them, and each one's distinct character, their families, etc...She is just so much fun to be around.

In a few days we will no longer have Internet at home therefore I will not be able to post pictures of Griffin or anything but I may be able to write from the computer at the library...not sure though. Don't know when we will be able to get Internet again as it may be quite some time. That's okay though because we need all that money that I owe for more important things like moving to a better place out in the country. Got to pay off debts and save money too. If you want to contact me just go to the e-mail link and send me a message and when we go to the library I will check it and write back. Big hugs to you all!

Monday, June 15, 2015

What a Fabulous Weekend We Had so Much Fun!

Griffin had such a wonderful time at the library watching and listening to Ronald McDonald speak to the children about how much fun reading is and doing all kinds of funny things to entertain them and Ronald kept Griffin and all the kids laughing the entire time.

This picture captures how thrilled Griffin was that he was actually seeing and hearing Ronald Mc Donald in real life.

                                           Griffin enjoys being on the floor out in public which is a result of feeling overwhelmed so being on the floor helps him to feel, pardon the pun, grounded if you will. Here he and Daniel are playing pretend with the Muppets in Barnes & Noble in the mall. Griffin can do this for hours so Daniel and I sat and talked part of the time. It is always nice to have adult conversation.

Griffin is snuggling with a duckling despite the fact that we discouraged him from doing so. It is so hard to deny him that pleasure since he loves them so much.

 Griffin and Daniel looking at his cell phone watching something that Griffin wanted to watch without me around in fact, when I took the picture he highly protested to me being in the room....such a teenager! They really got so great bonding time in over the weekend spending quiet time talking about guy things, feelings, and probably lots of discussion about cartoons and advertising icons.  Daniel is helping Griffin to be interested in healthy video and TV viewing as opposed to shows that are violent and inappropriate. Try as I might, he doesn't listen to me about it even though he listens about everything else. I guess it is just part of being a teenager.

This has got to be one of my all time favorite pictures of Griffin because even though only a small portion of his face appears one can almost feel the emotion that he exudes when looking into the sweet face of this baby duckling. I think that I captured his love for it.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

I Was So Inspired by These Thoughts from Louise Hay About Our Children

Children are blessings from the Universe. They are not their parents’ possessions. They’re individual bright spirits—old spiritual souls coming to have another human experience. They’ve chosen their parents for the lessons and challenges that they’ll be given. They’re here to teach us many things if we’re open to learning from them.
Children are challenging, for they have different ways of looking at Life. Yet parents frequently insist on teaching them old, outdated ideas that their children instinctively know aren’t right for them.
It’s the parents’ duty to provide a safe, nurturing space for this soul to develop its current personality to the fullest. If we could only realize that each child who comes to this planet is a healer and could do wondrous things to advance humanity when they’re encouraged. When we try to force a child into a mold that was passed down from our grandparents, then we do him or her a disservice, and we do society a disservice.
Applaud your children’s uniqueness. Allow them to express themselves in their own style, even if you think it’s just a fad. Don’t make them wrong or tear them down. Goodness knows, I’ve gone through many, many fads in my lifetime, and so will you and your children!
We don’t have to be perfect parents. If we’re loving, our children will have an excellent chance of growing up to be the kind of people we would like to have as friends. They’ll be individuals who are self-fulfilled and successful. Self-fulfillment brings inner peace. The best thing we can do for our children is to learn to love ourselves, for children always learn by example. We’ll have a better life, and they’ll have a better life, too.
Here are affirmations for both parents and children that you can practice together:
I love new things.
I am teachable. Life is an education. I am a student. I am doing the best I can and Every day it gets easier.
The child in me knows how to love and sing and dance and heal. I honor and cherish myself.
I see the best in everyone.
I now contribute to a united, loving and peaceful family life.
To get more love, I merely need to love myself more.
I allow myself to think big dreams.
I am a unique individual with my own path to follow.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Reading to Salonge the Therapy Dog

A couple of times a month or more if we can, Griffin goes to the library to read to one of the therapy dogs, this one is Salonge one of his favorites. Today he read to Molly who is a Bernese Mountain Dog absolutely gorgeous and as sweet as can be. When he is reading to them he does so with such inflection he really gets into it. They are truly therapeutic for him and I love watching him interact with them and get so much enjoyment out of it.

One of my favorite photos because I love bees and I am thrilled that I got such a great macrozoom picture with such a gorgeous tree and the bee. It wasn't easy to get because the bee kept flying around. Great camera.

We started working on spending pretend money at home to learn how to purchase items in the store and not be taken advantage of. Griffin is doing a great job and his therapist has shared a website with me that will help me teach him in a more simplistic manner that probably will not frustrate him so much. It is a slow process but he is catching on and I am very proud of his enthusiasm.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

A Beautiful Time of Year

 Griffin is doing really well and he seems to actually enjoy doing his homeschooling work each day. I don't push him though I do encourage him to do a bit more each time we work. I divide his work into several sessions throughout the day so that he doesn't get frustrated, lose patience, and so that he can move around as he needs to. He is accomplishing so much especially in vocabulary because I am using the flash cards that I used in my college preparatory class in my senior English class. The words are not easy, the spelling and definitions though he has no problem with them at all. I am so very proud of him. He eagerly works on his multiplication, and cursive every day of the week.

This photo turned out to be really good,  This is our state tree, the dogwood.

 Here is my buddy and his respite provider , Lisa. She is so awesome and we both adore her. They have a lot of fun together. She is super cool!
I really like this photo of Griffin as he appears to be deep in thought or just being observant and appreciating his surroundings.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Griffin is Now 13 Years Old, 5 ft. 10 inches , 186 lbs. Size 13 Shoes. His Dad is Samoan.

I look up to Griffin as I am only 5'4" or less by now but he is slimming up a lot as he is growing taller more than he is out now. My waist is bigger than his and I weigh more. He is a gentle giant though and has learned to be more gentle with the cats and with the water fowl that he picks up to snuggle when we go to the lake. He is just so affectionate and can't help himself. I am so blessed and give thanks every single day for having the opportunity to share my life with him and do not take one minute for granted that I spend with him.

We finally got our car back and we are enjoying our freedom. Freedom and independence is certainly not anything that I take for granted, I am very very grateful for them. His psychiatrist noticed today that he is so much more mellow and well mannered than a month ago when we were stranded.

I am feeling so good that I am writing again but this time I am not waiting to use the computer to do it, I am doing it the old fashioned way with pen and paper. Writing is so cathartic for me and it surprises me how much of my past that I can recall when I sit in the silence in reverie soaking up the delight of most the memories while having the ability to distance myself from emotional attachment to the more tragic and traumatic recollections of specific events that changed my life. Watching foreign films again and loving it. I watched them when I was much younger and now I once again appreciate the intellectual stimulation that I get from watching them. I love being able to be more active again though my sleep is still pretty messed up as I can't sleep until the wee hours of the morning about 4:00, 5:00, even 6:00 a.m. then I can't wake up until at least 11:00 when Griffin wakes me to  make him breakfast usually I fall back to sleep for a couple more hours. Frustrating! But I have faith that I will get back in sync one day in the meantime I enjoy having time to myself in the peace and quiet while Griffin is asleep.

He has shown me more interest in learning as of the past few days especially since I have discovered a way to speak to him in order to get him to respond immediately rather than saying that I am bossing him around. I merely say to him that " I would like for you to...." and then he does that task right away with no complaints. I am so proud of him as he has shown a great deal of maturity in the past couple of months. He even responds when I tell him that it is time to read and do some learning. We even discussed starting vocabulary and spelling tomorrow. I am so excited.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Some Pics of the Years Gone By and Griffin's Latest Growth Spurt

 My mom and a past photo of her beloved "Jade" whom we miss a great deal, she was so special.
Griffin adored Jade as well, she got lots of lovin'

Griffin used to be so small and thin, one would never know that he was going to grow up so big and tall

This is our dear sweet friend Sheila and her grandsons in Alaska. We used to visit them often, they were a big part of our lives. Sheila was one of Griffin's first educators in his early intervention,
I don't have a recent photo of Griffin but suffice it to say that he has grown exponentially just in the past year. And now that he is 13 years old the signs of puberty are quite apparent but not in a bad way. He is candid with me as we have a exceptionally close relationship and talk about everything.

He was weighed and measured the other day at the doctor's and he now weighs 186 lbs and is 5'10"!!!! It is apparent that he is half Samoan because both the men and women are very tall and large people much like many of the different races of the South Pacific. He is a gentle giant who loves animals and is exceptionally artistic.

We have been without a; car for almost 3 months and after having it for only two days find out that it is still not fixed and have to take it back to the garage. But still we are blessed regardless of our challenges there is always plenty to be grateful for no matter what is happening to you. If all you do is complain about your life then for sure that is all you will have....misery. A self-fulfilling prophecy.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Guest Post by Dawn Marotte: Stepping Up and Stepping Back

Stepping Up and Stepping Back

My 6 year old daughter huddled in a corner at a local store screaming at the top of her lungs because we didn't get the right cart.

This wasn't the first time she had a meltdown in public. My husband had to physically pick her up and carry her, kicking and screaming the whole way, to his car - where she refused to sit in the seat and sat wailing on the floor in the back of the car for 30 minutes.

All I could think about were the years stretching ahead of me, struggling to just get through each day.

But we stepped up to help her because that is what parents do.

Thus began our journey of therapies, doctors, diets and research.

We tried everything we could to help our daughter. For years it felt like we spent all of our time, money and energy helping her learn the skills she would need to be able to communicate and interact effectively with her peers and the world. We went from one therapy to another, tried diets and chiropractic care, read every book we could and joined online support groups.

Then we blinked and suddenly she wasn't a little girl anymore.

She was a tween and attending middle school. Hormones and attitude arrived with a bang. She didn't need all of the therapies anymore and by 7th grade her autism specialist actually wrote in her annual report, "A. has the social skills she needs, she just chooses not to use them."

This was a turning point for us as parents.

We realized that all of the hard work she had put in to learn about body language, conversational skills and the social rules that guide our world was successful. More importantly she was happy with herself. She has the skills the rest of the world says she needs, but she also has the discretion to choose when she wants to use them. We had spent years stepping up to manage everything in her life for her.

It was time to step back.

She still needs support of course but we needed to change focus and learn to let go a little bit at a time. It's not about talking to peers or handling the environment without melting down. Now it is about learning life skills and advocating for herself.

  • She has to learn how to ask for help when she needs it.
  • She has to learn about personal hygiene
  • She had to learn how to take control of her environment when she can and make adjustments when she can't.
  • She has to learn how to do laundry.

Parenting a teen on the spectrum is different than parenting a young child.

Our kids don't mature on the same schedule as others but they do grow up.

Now we have to teach them how to take care of themselves. They will need to know how wake up on their own, get to work, make dinner, brush their teeth, buy clothes, shower regularly, wash dishes, wear deodorant, schedule doctor's appointments and all of the other chores we adults do on a regular basis.

We have to take the time to teach them the skills that will allow them to live as independent adults. They aren't going to pick up these skills by observation. We need to show them, step by step, how to perform each skill they need to master. Then they need to practice them until they have mastered them.

Our focus has to change from advocating for them to teaching them to advocate for themselves.

We need to help them learn how to ask for help when they need it. And ask again if they still aren't getting what they need. This means practicing how to approach teachers or staff at school to ask a question. This may be something to add to your child's IEP (Individualized Education Program.)

When you take them places, whether it is getting their hair cut, going to a movie or out to eat make them speak with the staff. Have them ask a relevant question. This isn't about social interaction, but about learning to ask for information and processing the response. They may want to prepare a question in advance and practice asking it. This process of thinking ahead will work for the as adults too.

When they leave high school and go to college or into the workforce they will need to be able to ask for help. No one is going to be there to advocate for them and silence will not serve them.

We need to be there to support them when they fail, as everyone does from time to time.

Not every day is going to go well and the teen years can be particularly difficult. Often the level of communication with the school will be less. More teachers per student and more students for each teacher mean they have less time often to share daily events. It is important to set up a communication schedule and method that works for everyone.

Sometimes our kids focus too much on the negative and we may need to help them see the positive. Teens seem too often to generalize, "Everyone thinks, No one does, etc" We need to help them focus more on the specifics. That could mean writing down 1 or 2 positives for each day and then reviewing them regularly. It can also be helpful to review all of the progress they have made so far in their life.

We need to be there to celebrate with them when they triumph, as they will.

There will be many more opportunities for teens to participate in groups with similar interests. They may find their tribe in art, sports, music, anime, fashion, cars or any of the other clubs available to them. Get a list of clubs and activities and try them out. Don't place any limits - if they find something interesting try it. Finding peers with similar interests can help our kids practice their social skills with others who are already excited about the same subject.

Another place that they may excel is in online groups. Forums such as can provide a safe place to interact with others on the spectrum.

We need to step back and let them mature into the adults they want to be. Give them the room to find what they want to do, without preconceived expectations about what they can and can't do. Help them along, but give them the respect they deserve as young adults who are capable.

We need to be parents our kids can be proud of.

How has your parenting changed as your children have gotten older?

Disclaimer: Although I approved this article for submission it does not necessarily reflect my views however if I did not think it appropriate then I would not have published it. This is Dawn's experience and therefore it should be read and understood as such. Lora

Saturday, January 17, 2015

I am so Blessed and Give Thanks Every Day

These are the ducks at the lake and as you can see they adore Griffin and know that he is always generous with the cracked corn ( their favorite)
This is the awesome puppet (muppet) that Griffin made almost all by himself, I just helped a little bit. I am so proud of him. He worked so hard on it. It is the Wilkin's coffee mascot from the 50's
Griffin and Link, he is still learning how to pick them up but once he is holding them they calm down and do not try to scratch or bite him.
This is Dot or Kitty Dot Com as Griffin had named her. She looks young because she is so petite but we have had her for many years. She sleeps with Griffin.

Griffin is sleeping much better though I am not and maybe it is because we haven't been out of the apartment for 10 days only now and then to check the mail. We sure have bonded during this time and I am so proud of Griffin for not complaining and getting upset or impatient because we don't have the car. I believe that it is a sign of maturity on his part. He is about to turn 13 and he is acting more patient and understanding than "like a typical teenager" like so many people complain about. I know that I am blessed and believe me I write down and count my blessings every single day. I don't say prayers to ask for that which I do not have but instead give thanks for that in which I do have.